Depression (term paper)

Posted on: June 17, 2011

Concealed Sadness


             A disorder has been present with mankind since long time ago. People assume that even King David suffered from it. Hippocrates, father of medicine, considered this disorder to be melancholia, or black bile, which at that time was considered to be main component of the human body. The disorder was already present in BC 1003 of King David’s time, and Hippocrates’s perception infers that it has been common even in BC 460. The disorder was close to people’s lives, enough to be portrayed in literature and art. Recently, the disorder was picked to become the next most serious problem in close future. What is this serious affliction? It is depression.

Depression, or depressive disorder, is unselective, sudden, and unpredictable. Anybody at anytime can suffer from it, lightly or even led to death. Everybody might feel gloomy sometimes, feel down after a bad morning, or maybe because of disputes with someone. Such mood changes are just everyday mood fluctuations, which can return to normal state, or become pleasurable attitude again. Since people go through ups and downs of feelings, they tend to ignore their moods, thinking it will get better again. However, the ignorance becomes a reason why depression gets under-diagnosed frequently and people suffer from it unknowingly. Maybe in past times, ignorance did not matter that much since depression was not a widely, seriously considered social problem. However, people should be aware of it now as depression rate is steadily increasing. Depression should no longer be considered as a minute problem, but as a serious health warning. Medics predict depression to be one of major diseases that will make the world suffer. According to WHO (World Health Organization), in 2020, depression will be most tormenting disease towards mankind, other than heart diseases. Currently, the prevalence rate of depression is 15% of the whole world in their lifetime, especially women of higher rate of 25%. The rate will increase according to current flow of the world. Also, depression ranks fifth for causes of death and disabilities. Statistics show how serious and threatening depression is to people.

One reason why depressions are deadly is that the symptoms of depression are not clear and distinguishable like other disorders or diseases. For example, when someone is suffering from a cold, that person sneezes and body temperature rises, allowing others to predict what the person is suffering from. Unlike cold, symptoms of depression are hard to distinguish from everyday mood cycles especially in the initial stage of depression. Only when the depression progresses and gets serious, others are able to recognize that the patient had been suffering psychologically. In addition, depression patients tend to cover up their symptoms or their feelings away from others. They feel ashamed by having a psychological disorder, especially depression. Because of combined reasons, patients neglect their conditions and wait in vague hope of being cured naturally. As patients are left alone, the chances become higher of depression getting worse. Patients not only get depressed by their uncontrollable situations, but also to themselves, wondering the reason why they should live. Such hopeless feelings go on, reaching the extreme when patients take suicide. Even if patients do not suicide, their daily lives would be greatly affected and hindered by their conditions. Cure is needed before patients fall into irrevocable state, but it is hard to even detect the disorder itself. Thus, it becomes clear that preventing depression is crucial.


What Is Depression?

Depression is “a syndrome reflecting sad and/or irritable mood, exceeding normal sadness or grief.” It is characterized by longer duration, stronger intensity, and more severe symptoms than normal mood change. There are several types of depression: major depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, and seasonal depression (Edwards). Major depression is depression with long duration, about 2 weeks, severe sadness, along with insomnia, being the common depression. Dysthymia is less severe, but with long duration. Bipolar disorder, or maniac depression, is constant flux between happiness and depression. Bipolar depression patients might seem satisfied and happy for short period of time, but their psychological health is fragile and is able to change into depression easily. The outcome of depression might be different, but it indicates that patients are suffering psychologically, and care is needed.


Symptoms of Depression

Common symptoms of depression includes, negative moods, loss of interest, social isolation, insomnia, tiredness, and thoughts of suicide. (Edwards) When a person becomes depressed, they usually persistently feel sad, angry, anxious, irritable, or even despondent. Patients frequently have emotional breakdowns, where they cry. They usually feel hopelessness about their future, their situation, and even about themselves. Many patients even feel helplessness after their effort to come out of depression. For example, many people say “Cheer up!” or “Take care!” for advice, but medical professors note that such saying would be no help to depression patients. The reason is that the patients had done everything that they had done and are feeling greatly depressed and helplessness as they are still suffering from depression. (Ichiro 91) Also, depression patients lose interest, even for food. Losing interest also leads to staying away from people and isolating themselves and losing weight for not eating. Depression patients are frequently unable to sleep, being more tired during the days. As the patients’ conditions become more serious, they feel serious hopelessness that they come to think of killing themselves to end their tormenting life. It is the most extreme attitude, in which must be prevented.


Causes of Depression

Medics and psychologists had long searched for possible causes of depression. During the 1950s and 1960s, they focused on the causes of depression, while later, they focused on the effects. They thought of two causes: endogenous and neurotic. (Edwards) Endogenous cause is depression with its roots to the gene or was seen to have no cause at all. Neurotic cause is depression triggered by external cause, such as from the surrounding environment. The later is proved, for people tend to become affected by environmental cause, such as constant exposure to stress.

Recently, scientists had found a seeming genetic cause for depression. Researchers of Kings College London pointed out that chromosome 3p25-26 is the genetic cause for depression. (Borland) They had done research of more than 800 British families, and found out that people who frequently suffered from depression had genetic variations in the same section. However, genetic variation is just higher change of probability, but not that it causes depression directly.

Another probability that scientists are focusing on is the actual mental health of patients. Psychologists focusing on positive psychology found differences in people’s smiles which had a relationship with people’s lives. People who had genuine smile called ‘Duchenne smile’ tend to live longer and happier than others who had face smile called ‘Pan-American smile.’ (Seligman 22) People done research on was mentally healthy people with no depression or whatsoever. However, even in ways of smiling indicates their mental state. People who try to be optimistic can handle their mental health better and healthier than those who tend to think pessimistically. Chance of depression can change according to ways people think about their surroundings.


Why Are Depression Rates Increasing in Modern Society?

There are combinations of reasons why people of modern society are getting depressed more easily and frequently than the past. Initially, professionalization of jobs became more complex than ever in modern society. There are numerous subdivisions of jobs, each with its own characteristics. Since jobs were divided, each career requires deep, professional knowledge and skills about that career. Educational requirement is also another reason why people spend so much time in educating themselves through elementary school to universities and colleges. Through the whole education term, people are ready with top-notch knowledge to help them get a specific career. Because of division of jobs, it became hard for people to change their career. Once a person chose their career and started their career life, it is hard to start another one, because they lack the knowledge and time to do so. In addition, people tend to gather at popular, favored jobs. Usually, popular careers include surgeons, dentists, lawyers, technicians, and others. These jobs have high competition, thus narrowing down the chance of moving to another wanted career. Thus, people who are dissatisfied with their jobs, have no choice but to stay or change to secondly-favored jobs. According to’s 4th annual survey of employee job satisfaction, about 30% of employees are dissatisfied with their current career. Stress from dissatisfying career can be fatal, for career is what people mostly invest their time into. When a career becomes dissatisfying, people lose interest and passion for their work, and thus become lacking than others who truly have passion for the same job. People become frustrated towards themselves, thus leading to depression if becomes serious.

Moreover, modern society requires perfectionists. As living conditions are getting better and comfortable, living expectations are getting higher. People want better materials and better services. To achieve high expectation, less mistakes and higher efficiency is needed. To handle the work, people are trying to be perfectionists, especially in what they do best or in their professions. Then, overwork is becoming frequent and people are testing themselves to their limits of their performance. There is no leisure time, and work stress is making the shoulders heavy of people. Because of heavy workload, slump sometimes come to people. To overcome slump, it is important to relax and give time for oneself out of responsibility. (Ichiro 55) However, society used to perfectionism, does not make an excuse towards slumps. Punishments and advices are frequently given, which adds up to the whole stress. Thus, people are pushed to do their work, and in a slump, efficiency drops. To do poorly in what people had pride is a giant stress and a way to losing self-confidence. (Ichiro 14) Continued harassment leads to depression, as stress and worry of not being able to recover piles up.


Curing Depression

To cure depression, it is important that both mood control of the patients and support from close friends and families are needed than medicines. Antidepressants can cure depression for a short interval of time, but it has countless side-effects. Also, patients tend to rely on medicines instead of trying to cure it themselves, leading to worse state. For patient individuals, they need to forgive themselves even if they make mistakes. Human can make mistakes, and there is no need to too harsh. When depression comes, it is important to gradually find what they are interested in, and evade too stressful activities. For people around, they should try to understand the patient, but not by their own standards. By understanding what the patient is suffering, there would be no pushing on. In the whole, it is important to acknowledge that humans are humans, not machines.


Works Cited


Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D. AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment New York, USA 2004


Kamoshita Ichiro, “UTSU” KAMO SHIRE NAI TO OMOTTA RA YOMU HON (Depression Psychology) Tokyo, Japan 2004


Madeline Innocent. Natural News “Cure depression with homeopathy.”


Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD. And Dennis Lee, MD and ed. Wiliam C. Shiel Jr., MD. FACP. FACR. “Depression”


Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD. and ed. Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD. “Depression”


Borland, Sophie. Mail Online “Found: The rogue gene that could make you prone to depression”



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